If you are a fan of nature and decide to visit Costa Rica, you would probably expect to have an encounter with some cute and playful primates. The good news is chances of sighting monkeys are really high. Stay with us and discover all you need to know about Costa Rica monkeys.
Breeds of Costa Rica Monkeys
Costa Rica has been blessed with four different species of monkeys. You will be able to spot monkeys almost everywhere in the country, except in the middle of the city of course. Here are more details about Costa Rica monkeys:
The “cariblanco” as we called in Spanish, or the Cebus capucinus imitator is one of the monkeys you will probably enjoy the most while in Costa Rica. This species is part of the subfamily Cebinae that inhabits Central and South America. Within Central America, these smart fellows can be found in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
Among all the monkeys found in Costa Rica, the Capuchin, as it is also named, is the one who usually is more interested in having contact with humans, or the one that is more used to the human presence.
It is a relatively small monkey if you compared it to other species in the country, weighing up to 9 lbs. The Capuchin monkey is an omnivore, meaning that it eats different types of food: fruit, plants and small animals, invertebrate and vertebrates.
They are mostly recognized to be the smartest species among the new world monkeys. However, in nature its importance resides in its role of dispersing seeds and pollen. It is a social animal that lives in groups with defined hierarchies and social roles. As an interesting fact, a recent study held in the Santa Rosa National Park found out that Capuchin Monkeys are one of the few species in which males avoid inbreeding. Another unusual feature of this species is the long tenure of the Alpha males resulting in a high degree of relatedness with a group.
Probably the most impressive Costa Rica monkey, the mantled howler monkey is a totally black and large primate. The Alouatta coibensis, live in numerous groups of up to 20 individuals. They spend most of its time in the canopy trees, feeding during the day and sleeping at night. It is common to see them sleeping with their arms and legs hanging in the branches of the trees as they are a sedentary animal.
The “congo” as known in our country, are not social animals so they won´t be interested in getting closer to humans. They are harmless, however if fell threatened if you get too close, they will throw things at you including little branches, seeds and sometimes their feces.
The most characteristic feature of this Costa Rica monkey, as you could imagine, is its howl. At dawn and dusk, you can hear the loud howls of these monkeys. It has been recorded that the sound of its howl can be heard in a distance of up to 3 miles. The role of the howls is to inform each other among the troops scattered in the forest, the territory and location of each of them, in order to avoid unnecessary confrontations. It is also a way of alerting the troop of any danger. The howl is so impressive and loud that sometimes tourists confuse it with the roar of a lion (the good news is there are no lions in Costa Rica, so please do not panic if you hear them during your next visit).
The Ateles geoffroyi, also known as spider or “Colorado” in Spanish, is the largest species of monkeys in Costa Rica. The male body length can get up to 25 inches long, the tail up to 34 inches (larger than its body) and its weight up to 20 pounds in males.
The “mono araña” gets its name due to its long and skinny limbs and tail. This monkey is considered as endangered. One of the reasons for this, besides the human threat and the menace to its natural ecosystem, is its low birth rate as females only get pregnant every once every two or three years with just one offspring.
The spider monkey lives in large groups of up to 30 individuals, however they split into smaller groups to forage. Their diet consists mainly of tree leaves, seeds and nectar. However, sometimes they can also add some small insects and eggs.
The grey-crowned red-backed squirrel monkey or Saimiri oerstedii is a variation of the Titís monkeys that can only be found in Costa Rica. It is the smallest Costa Rica monkey and because of its limited habitat and the human threat, it was included in the IUCN Red List in 1996. Nowadays it has changed its status from Critically Endangered to endangered (2008, thanks to the efforts of conservation groups.
This tiny mammal of just 2 pounds in average, differs from the other species of the country as it is the only one whose tail is not prehensile traveling between branches the same way a squirrel does.
The Tití spend most of its day foraging. Their diet is varied, including arthropods, birds and bat eggs, small lizards, fruits, plants and nectar.
The Costa Rican native monkey are social mammals. They live in large groups of up to 25 individuals. The different groups within the same territory often overlap, this is important for conservation purposes avoiding the isolation of the species which causes a genetic weakening.
If you want to help with the conservation of the Costa Rican native Grey-crowned Central American Squirrel Monkey, we encourage you to visit The Titi Conservation Alliance website.
Where to see the Costa Rica Monkeys
Important things to remember
To guarantee the conservation of Costa Rica wildlife it is always to remember:
1- Wildlife animals are not pets or entertainment devices, therefore monkeys should never be kept in captivity.
2- While visiting any national park, hotel, beach or area never feed any wildlife. Human food or even fruits that are not part of an animal regular diet can be harmful to them. Feeding wildlife can also result in dangerous situations.
3- If someone offers you the possibility of buying any wildlife, get in contact with local authorities and report the subject. Wildlife trafficking is against the law.
4- Always hire certified local guides, this action will help make your visit to national parks or conservation areas more enjoyable for you. Certified guides know exactly where to see, what to avoid and have important information for you.
5-If visiting a national park with the purpose of wildlife observation, remember you will not be visiting a zoo. Therefore, no one can guarantee the observation of any animal species.
6- Preserve the nature and leave the garbage in the adequate places.
7-Always follow instructions of the rangers or guides and do not leave the hiking paths.
If you are planning your next visit to Costa Rica, stay with us! We have amazing vacation rental options with all the comfort you need and immersed in nature. Hear the howler monkeys from the balcony of your condo or visit one of the many amazing National Parks that surround us. Contact us now for more information.
Featured image courtesy of Animalsake